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Dangerous Times: How to Avoid Fireworks Damage to Your Eyes on July 4

June 29, 2018

Dr. Silverman and the staff of OCLI love America and want to wish all of you a very happy 242nd anniversary of the founding of the country! They hope you have a great time with friends and family and that you’re able to see a wonderful fireworks display.

Now, about that “seeing” part: We also hope that you will take the time to be careful, because almost 10 percent of injuries that occur over the Fourth of July holiday are eye injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control, in addition to four fireworks-related deaths in 2016, there were an estimated 11,000 injuries due to fireworks that were treated in emergency rooms.  Around one third of the reported injuries happened to children.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns of fireworks injuries ranging from ocular burns and abrasions to retinal detachments, optic nerve damage, and even ruptured eyes.

The AAO has several suggestions for you and your family to keep you safe when you’re around fireworks this July 4:

  1. Discuss fireworks safety with children and teenagers before the Fourth. ER doctors report that many of the injured people who come into their emergency rooms say that they didn’t realize they were putting themselves in danger. If you know you will have fireworks with your family, sit down with any children and explain to them the dangers of fireworks.
  2. Control who will be allowed to handle the fireworks, and keep children from handling them without direct adult supervision. Even if you have a talk with your kids about the danger of fireworks, sometimes youthful exuberance can get the best of them. Make sure that if your children are using any fireworks, even something as simple as a sparkler (see item four below) you are nearby and can step in should they start using it in a dangerous manner. It only takes a second for a tragedy to happen.
  3. If you are handling the fireworks display for your family, make sure to wear protective eyewear. If you ever watch professional fireworks displays, you’ll see the men and women who do shows for a living wearing protective gear while working around their fireworks. If the professionals know the value of protection, then you should take the same precautions.
  4. Don’t buy sparklers. So many people think sparklers are mostly harmless, to the point you’ll often see very young children waving them around while jumping or dancing. However, a sparkler can be a very dangerous device. The temperature of a sparkler can reach 2,000 degrees or hotter—and while you may not believe it, it’s the #1 cause of fireworks-related injuries that result in a trip to the emergency room. Sparklers are just not worth the risk.
  5. Make sure that no children or adults are nearby when you’re launching fireworks.  If you are putting on a display for your family, make sure to set up at a significant distance from where your loved ones will view the display. Make sure before launching any fireworks that you are the only one in the area of the fireworks, as little children might be curious and try to sneak up and see what you’re doing.
  6. Don’t touch any unexploded fireworks. If possible, have a member of your local fire department or police department handle the unexploded device. In the event that they are not available, douse the object in large amounts of water and wear protective gear when disposing of the fireworks.

The most important piece of advice is simple: Just use common sense. If you think some fireworks are too dangerous for your children, then don’t let them near those things. If you’re going to set off fireworks, make sure you use protective gear. Dr. Silverman and the team at OCLI want to see you safe and healthy on July 5!

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